Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Thank You to You, PSH

Went through my 9th graduation yesterday! Haha, looking forward to next one, hopefully.

Happy to have had one of my highly held mentors feel like he was a pufferfish, bursting with pride at the sight of all the graduates in the chapel at 3A.

I thank the CME for giving me the honor of thanking everybody on behalf of the graduates so when they called my name, I stepped to the podium, adjusted the microphone, looked up, smiled and said:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

Just lately, I’ve come to realize how amusing it is for people to think, that after achieving a milestone in life, things get a lot easier -- you get to catch a lot more breaks here and there, or things might even get handed to you on a better-looking platter. Conversations in the coming days will go like, “O, musta na ka?” (Oh, how are you) or “Asa naman ka ron?” (Where are you based now?) and you’ll gamely reply with a smile, “Bag-o pa graduate.” (I've just graduated) or “Magsugod pa tawon.” (I'll still be starting out), and the response will be, “Aw, pero hayahay na na.” (But, it's gonna be easier now) or “Aw, basta kay humana na ka.” (Well, at least you're done!)

Come to think of it, after every personal milestone in my life, which has included eight prior graduations, that has always been the case with the all the questions, but the answers were never really the right.

Has it ever really been any easier? For every step, there has been more responsibility and more at stake. Consequently, every step has been way harder than the previous and every year a bit more challenging than the year before.

Who can remember their first days of residency – the wide eyes, the nerves, the first calls to consultants, the first reprimands, the first deaths, their first operations, their first codes, their first deliveries? As the days became weeks, weeks became months, and months became years, in came seniority, more responsibility, more disagreements and more conflicts.

So no, it has never gotten any easier. It never does and it never will.

Actually, it gets harder from here on out.

And so, what do we have to thank for after 3 or 4 years in PSH?

We thank everybody for the training.

We came here to train, learn and be more confident in treating our patients in our chosen specialties, and, personally, I can truly say that I am coming out of this institution a better doctor than when I first came in. The knowledge taken from conferences, lectures, rounds, and even mistakes, is what my mother has always said about education when I was a kid – something that cannot be truly taken away from me. So the training, the medicine, and the education we will cherish and be grateful for wherever we go from here.

But more importantly, we thank PSH for the company in this stage of our careers and this stage of our lives.

It was one of the constants we had for the past 3 or 4 years in our lives. Here, we have made our shares of irreplaceable friendships and maybe some forgettable ones. Each of the individual graduates here have shared their lives in one way or another to our second home – some fell in love here, others found their freedoms, some gave birth, some got married here and some found somewhere else to be aside from being anywhere else. And we can’t deny that all the laughter, the tears, the pains and joys, the sleepless nights turning into endless dawns, the endless holidays spent away from our families to tend to our work and the company we kept here in PSH have helped us along our way to become better persons and helped us grow.

In the past few days, I’ve had a couple of people ask me, “Is your speech ready?” or even to the extent of a friend from another hospital, jokingly asking for a copy of what I was going to say in front of you today, I’ve continuously replied with a mixture of earnest questioning and surprise. I will never have enough paper to say how I feel about having been here the past 3 years. To truly grasp that idea, one would have to be here, train here, experience it and live it here.

So to PSH, we all thank you for everything.

To our mentors, and tormentors, to our consultants, and insultants, to the staff, from the nurses to the guards that watch our cars in the parking lot, our parents, families and significant others, our utmost and immeasurable gratitude.

We all yearn to be remembered.

From a few weeks to a smattering of years from now, some of you that will be fortunate to still be here will recall an anecdote, a blooper, a desirable and undesirable quality from each of us here that you might use to make a point to some goo-goo eyed first year resident. That is our imprint on the whole PSH experience.

But rest assured, we will remember your imprint on our lives and we will be forever grateful.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you and good afternoon.

Much was said about it -- funny, facetious, nice, quaint -- but I tell you it is three things, honest, heartfelt, real.

Thank you PSH

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


When I was in elementary, our grade school principal usually referred to Dumaguete as a "city spoiled by God." It was a tropically beautiful city, relatively peaceful and always with the right balance of great weather.

That is why the first thing that came to my mind, when I found out that Dumaguete was one of the cities that did not fare well during Sendong's two-day havoc, I really didn't believe it at first. Then I found out on Facebook and the news and, the more important question came to mind, "What did you guys do to upset Him?"

Seriously, there has never been damage like this from a storm in Dumaguete in all my 31 years of existence. I saw a couple of houses float down Banica River when Ruping struck but that was it.

Here is a video montage I found on Youtube on the damage in my hometown.

Thankfully, my home and my family were safe and dry.

But not for others. Two of the people that help my mother in the market each lost their houses to the raging Banica river, along with everything they owned. Several bridges cracked while some collapsed. Lives were lost. Floods that carried disease increased hospital admissions. People stranded -- some missing, some worrying the people they cared about because there were no means of communication and transport.

I was finally able to come home and I saw some of the damage done by the storm -- trees uprooted, houses collapsed, and a shoreline full of debris and receding water levels in the Banica and Ocoy rivers.
There are still a lot of places in the province where there is no water and electricity available.

But, slowly, life goes on.

Some grieved for the lives they lost, some are still figuring out how to bounce back from losses of home and property, while for most, moving on begrudgingly because life doesn't stop for floods.

What is heartbreaking is that, when asked, where the families will go now that the water levels of the nearby rivers are receding, most replied that they will be returning there to start again. Not for the lack of options, but because they can't afford to be anywhere else.

The outpouring of love and compassion from other people remind us that we are capable of wondrous things when faced with adversity, but maybe if we can manage to continue the goodwill beyond these times -- beyond Christmas, beyond calamities -- we can truly say that we are making the changes that we want to see in this world.

Updates for those who call Dumaguete City home:
- Tejeros and Forest Camp are run over by boulders, mud and river water
- Shorelines are still a bit muddy but regaining the deep blue color that lace our province
- More property losses than actual lives lost, but even the lesser deaths (as compared to those in Cagayan De Oro and Iligan) still count, considering there has never been anything like this in this city
- Valencia is still struggling to get water to drink (fire trucks are making their rounds in the city)
- The spillway near Foundation University still cannot be accessed at this time, as it is still overrun by the river.

The spillway

How high do you think the water went?

That infamous stranded boat is getting a once over in the still sea.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Rat Race? I Don't Think So.

I recently ran into an old high school friend of mine along the walkways of IT Park, Cebu while going through the motions of ending another routine study day. We didn't expect to see each other but, meetings with old friends are always nice surprises.

So we took seats outside, a local fastfood chain while I waited for my wife's chicken jambalaya and she was waiting for her work shift to start. She had just moved to Cebu and was starting a new job there after leaving her former work in Dumaguete City with her husband. It was all about advancement and such and how it hadn't provided enough growth for her and her family.

We counted that it was fourteen years since high school ended and all of our ways had to part. We shared most of what were small disappointments and mostly happy memories.

But we all had to go -- grow up, choose careers, go to college, get jobs, live.

She has been happily married for eight years, with one son. She shared that in conversations with her husband, she found it tedious to have had to start again in a new career, when at 30 they were supposed to be slowing down and enjoying the fruits of their labors and seeing their kids grow up.

I smiled, nodded, not really in agreement but mostly sympathetic and supportive.

30? Slowing down and retiring? Hmm. No.

It must be a new age thing.

I've been married, as of this writing, 1 year and almost 2 months. Kids? God-willing in the near future. Job? Physician, and just starting out, including the prospects of getting fellowships. Travel? A few places, here and there. Car? Whatever my family loans me, for now.

Happy? Definitely.

I've maintained the stand, all this time, that this life isn't a race. I've politely smiled to everybody that has remarked and commented that I'm getting too old to enjoy and see what my kids will be doing when they enter high school themselves. I know some people mean it encouragingly, when they say start a family now, build a house, because all the people around you are, but hey, which begs the questions why and why not?

Happiness is relative. So just as politely as I nod and keep silent my disagreement and project my support, do the same.

Its happiness when I see that the woman who wakes me up in the middle of the night for me to drive her to the hospital for an emergency C-Section, is the same woman who I want to wake up every Sunday morning with for the rest of my life, and hopefully, with kids knocking on the door saying it's time for church already.

Its elation when you have a job that allows you the challenge of figuring out what ails a person and actually have that same person thank you when he leaves your clinic, and I intend to do it until the day I no longer exist.

Its satisfaction when you just take time to smell the roses, be able to sit in your own little corner of the world and drink a large caramel coffee ice-blended frappuccino while rattling away emotions on some obscure blog.

Just enjoying walking slowly in the race of life.